Medical Marvel: Pig-To-Human Organ Transplant Creates New History

Pig-To-Human Organ Transplant

The procedure of a pig heart implant that proved to be a historic step in the medical field happened on Friday. According to The University of Maryland Medical School, the procedure was highly successful, and the man is recovering correctly after having a pig’s heart. However, it is not the first incident of a pig’s heart transplant into a man. Reports say that in Assam, a small Northeastern state in India, Dr. Dhani Ram Baruah got arrested for doing that 25 years ago.

The Incident

US surgeons implanted a pig’s heart that got genetically altered into a man’s, which contributed to making history in the medical field. This procedure can allegedly remove all the barriers between animal to human organ transplants by filling up the significant deficiency in organ donations.

According to the University of Maryland Medical School statement, this procedure happened on Monday, and the patient is recovering fast and is now closely monitored to observe the performance of the new animal organ in his body.

The patient, 57-year-old David Bennett, had a situation that made him incompetent for a human transplant because of his critical health condition. Hence it was a do-or-die situation for him, and he chose to live. He states with utmost faith in his doctors, “I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice.”

For several months, Bennett has been bed-ridden, supported by a heart-lung bypass machine enabling him to stay alive. As he was ineligible for a human organ transplant, The Food and Drug Administration had no option but to allow an emergency authorization for the unconventional surgery.

Bartley Griffith, the surgeon who transplanted the Pig’s heart into Bennett, referred to the historic surgery as, “This was a breakthrough surgery and brings us one step closer to solving the organ shortage problem.”

How the Pig was made eligible

The donor pig was among the herd which had gone through various genetic correction procedures to make them more suitable for humans. Three pig genes that did not suit the human body got removed along with a gene responsible for creative unrestrained heart tissues in pigs. Ten genetic edits took place, along with the insertion of 6 human genes into the pigs of the herd. The whole genetic editing got completed by the biotech firm Revivicor in Virginia. But the first instance of a pig-to-human organ transplant dates way back to 25 years in India, about which we all tend to forget.

The World seems to forget Dr. Baruah's Contribution.

In 1997 Assam, a Northeastern Indian state, a similar surgery happened by a renowned surgeon, Dr. Dhani Ram Baruah. But unfortunately, the patient died suffering from a severe infection, causing Dr. Baruah’s arrest.

The procedure took place in Guwahati in his facility, with Dr. Jonathan Ho Kei-Shing, a famous Hong Kong surgeon. They are both responsible for transplanting a pig’s heart and lung into a 32-year-old patient’s body who suffered from an uncommon condition in which his heart had a hole.

As reported by Indian Express, the patient’s body rejected the organs of its pig donor, causing him to die after just seven days since the surgery. And this gave rise to massive controversies in the World, causing the arrest of both surgeons. Though he got released after 40 days, his career faced tremendous taunts for performing this procedure which had been declared ‘unethical’ by the Assam Government. However, he didn’t allow his research to stop.

Final Words

This surgery in the US is a medical Marvel itself. Not only does it make the experiment with the animal to human transplant successful, but it also indicates various future possibilities and a complete solution to the organ shortage issue people are currently facing. However, this groundbreaking surgery has not occurred for the first time as the same got carried out 25 years ago. So we can’t completely ignore Dr. Baruah’s contribution to making this unique experiment happen.

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